Midi-Pyrenees Region: Preventing and monitoring diabetes complications

The Region

Midi-Pyrénées is a large region situated in the south-west of France. The region covers an area of 45,348 km2, and has a population of about 3m people, being Toulouse its major urban area. The University Hospital of Toulouse (Centre Hospitalier Universitaire de Toulouse) is the main health centre in the region.

The Challenge

In 2010, almost 4% of the regional population was affected by diabetes, with a growing progression rate every year. Diabetes can entail serious complications, such as cardiovascular and chronic kidney diseases, blindness and foot amputation. Good prevention policies and monitoring are essential to avoid and control such complications, and to reduce human and social security costs.

Although diabetes needs to be monitored through regular exams, many reasons prevent a number of patients from undertaking periodical check-ups: the limited number of medical facilities in the region’s rural areas, difficulty of access and transportation, a delay of several months to see a specialist that discourages patients.

The Satellite Solution

Within the framework of the project DIABSAT, a vehicle driven by paramedical staff and equipped with a satellite antenna and the medical devices needed to screen diabetes’ complications travels regularly to isolated areas to perform the medical exams of diabetes’ sufferers. The results of the tests are sent to specialists of the Toulouse Hospital through the satellite connection. The analyses of the results are then sent directly to patients and their personal doctors.

The project DIABSAT was launched in July 2009 by French Space Agency (CNES), in partnership with the Toulouse Hospital with the support of the Regional Council of Midi-Pyrénées.

The Result

Thanks to the itinerant truck, patients living in 100 towns and villages in Midi-Pyrénées are encouraged to check their health more regularly, thus receiving earlier diagnoses and better oriented therapies, while reducing health costs. The truck allowed for the screening of around 20% of diabetes complications among the 519 examined patients.
The project DIABSAT could inspire other programs targeting illnesses needing regular monitoring.

“Improving diabetes care is really necessary near people’s home in rural areas by providing better information to diabetics and by optimizing the interaction between health professionals to reach international health targets”. Jacques Martini.